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Turnovers hurt Vaqueros in 72-52 loss to No. 6 Merced

Lauren Noggle, a 5-11 freshman forward/center from Dos Pueblos High, had seven points and 12 rebounds. She's grabbed 27 boards the last two days and is averaging 10.8 in her last four games. (Photo by Ken Sciallo / Sevilla Photography)
Lauren Noggle, a 5-11 freshman forward/center from Dos Pueblos High, had seven points and 12 rebounds. She's grabbed 27 boards the last two days and is averaging 10.8 in her last four games. (Photo by Ken Sciallo / Sevilla Photography)

Merced took advantage of a plus-26 turnover margin to defeat SBCC 72-52 on Friday and bounce the Vaqueros from the Cuesta Pre-New Year's women's basketball tournament in San Luis Obispo.

Santa Barbara (7-7) outshot the Blue Devils 40 to 32 percent and outrebounded them 55-43. But the Vaqueros committed 38 turnovers for the second straight game. That led to lots of shots for Merced (13-3), which had 33 more field-goal attempts (88 to 55).

The Vaqueros have outrebounded their last 10 opponents and are second in the state in rebounding margin (plus 22.7).

Merced, ranked No. 6 in the state, only had 12 turnovers and recorded 18 steals. The Blue Devils hit 8-of-23 from downtown and the Vaqueros were 1-8.

It was the Vaqueros' third straight loss against a top-17 team.

"If you want to be a top team in the state, you have to play the best teams," noted SBCC coach Sandrine Krul. "Those teams are going to expose your weaknesses. We need to turn those into strengths for conference."

The Vaqueros had 22 turnovers in the first half and trailed 34-21 at intermission.

Sophomore forward Diamond Alexander led SBCC with 12 points (on 5-8 shooting) and eight rebounds. Aaliyah Pauling had eight points and seven rebounds while Lauren Noggle pitched in with seven points and a team-high 12 rebounds.

Hannah Rogers added six points and eight boards and Holly Barrera had six points and seven rebounds.

The Vaqueros will play their last nonconference event on Jan. 5-6. They'll open the new year vs. the host school, Citrus, on Friday in the Citrus Crossover at 5 p.m. The Vaqueros will take on Antelope Valley on Saturday at 3 p.m.